President Joe Biden’s job disapproval among Arkansans is growing, led by independent voters whose confidence in his handling of the job has declined. And a new survey of likely Arkansas voters finds more dissatisfaction than satisfaction in the institution of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll of 916 likely Arkansas voters was conducted Sept. 20-22, 2021 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.04%. The survey asked:
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Joe Biden is doing?
17% Strongly approve
22% Somewhat approve (39% Approve)
6% Somewhat disapprove
53% Strongly disapprove (59% Disapprove)
2% Don’t know
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Supreme Court is doing?
7% Strongly approve
38% Somewhat approve (45% Approve)
29% Somewhat disapprove
19.5% Strongly disapprove (48.5% Disapprove)
6.5% Don’t know
In a late May TB&P-Hendrix survey, Biden had a 41% job approval rating compared to 51% disapproval rating. The spread has grown from 10 percentage points to 20 percentage points in less than four months.
“As Arkansas politics becomes more nationalized and divided, what we see reflected in these numbers involving Biden and the Supreme Court suggest more of the same trends we’ve seen in state politics over the last decade: advantage Republicans,” said Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics editor-in-chief.
Talk Business & Politics will be releasing additional polling results throughout the week on a range of topics including Gov. Hutchinson’s and the Arkansas legislature’s job approval, the Texas abortion law, mask mandates, corporate vaccine requirements, abolishing the state income tax, and the legislature’s ability to call themselves into session.
Talk Business & Politics seeks bipartisan input in the construction and analysis of its polls.
Dr. Jay Barth, emeritus professor of politics at Hendrix College, is active in Democratic Party politics and helped craft and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the poll results:
“In recent months, President Joe Biden’s solid national approval numbers have floated downward as an array of challenges—domestic and foreign—have faced his Presidency. At the time of our May 2021 survey, Biden was underwater with Arkansas voters but still performing solidly for a Democrat. Unfortunately for the President, his approval numbers now are incredibly weak with Arkansans. Indeed, a majority strongly disapprove of his performance in office—three times the percentage of Arkansans who strongly approve of his performance. A band of voters who “somewhat” approve of his performance keeps his numbers partially afloat.
“An examination of crosstabs shows the expected patterns of strength and weakness for the President. Democrats are hanging tough for the President with over nine in ten voicing support for Biden; an even larger percentage of Republicans disapprove. Most importantly, Independents—who were mixed on Biden in the May survey—have now turned on him with 57% strongly or somewhat disapproving of his work while just under 40% approve to some degree.
“Led by African-Americans’ strong support for him, voters of color in the state indicate some degree of support for the President as a whole. Biden is also performing comparatively strongly with the youngest group of voters (overall he is about even with that group); other age groups strongly disapprove. Biden is also popular with the least religious voters, but that smaller group of Arkansas voters is overwhelmed by his rejection by more religious voters. Unsurprisingly, a 10-point gender gap is shown with women more favorable than men; still, Biden is underwater with both groups. A similar gap is shown in terms of education levels, with college grads comparatively more favorable towards the Democrat than those without a college degree.
“Finally, an urban/suburban versus rural divide is shown with Biden only slightly veering negatively with the voters in the Second (central) and Third (Northwest) Congressional Districts, while healthy majorities of rural voters strongly disapproving of his performance in the First (east) and Fourth (south/west) Congressional Districts. Overall, after a brief honeymoon, Biden’s numbers in the state now look much more like those of President Barack Obama, the man he served as Vice President who had consistently negative numbers in the Natural State.
“While we regularly ask about voters’ evaluation of Presidents, it is more infrequent that we take their temperature on the U.S. Supreme Court. However, particularly with its recent change in composition and its recent action in allowing a unique Texas abortion law to remain in effect, the Court has been distinctly high profile. Recent national polling has shown some of the most tepid approval numbers for the Court since the Bush v. Gore decision to determine the 2000 presidential election. Arkansans show a similarly conflicted perspective on the Supreme Court with just under half disapproving and 43% approving (almost all of that group is in the “somewhat” approve category).
“A majority of Republicans approve of the Court’s performance, Independents are almost evenly split on the institution, and Democrats are emphatically opposed to its performance (with about 70% disapproving). Interestingly, Democrats are the group most likely to have an opinion of some sort, suggesting that group is most engaged with the Court’s actions. While neither race/ethnicity nor education are clear determinants of opinions about the Court, there are strong correlations between age and religiosity and attitudes with the youngest and least religious voters most negative towards the Court. While less clear, a gender gap is shown with women more wary of the Supreme Court’s work than men. With the Supreme Court destined to be front and center in key national debates in coming months, it will be interesting to watch these patterns on its evaluation evolve.”
Robert Coon, managing partner with Impact Management Group, which works with Republican political candidates, also helped craft and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the poll results:
“President Joe Biden remains unpopular in Arkansas (39% to 59%) with his disapproval increasing roughly 8 percentage points from our May survey. Biden is underwater with all age groups, in all four Congressional districts, and with both men and women. As in May, Biden is polarizing, with high approval among Democrats (92%) and high disapproval among Republicans (95%). However, he’s lost ground with independents who now view him -17 net favorable compared to -13 in May.
“It is also notable that his support among Democrats, while high overall, is soft due to the large chunk of that group (39%) that only somewhat approve of the job he’s doing. That weakness among the President’s party base does not bode well for Democratic candidates in the state, and gives Republicans a strong wedge to use with voters, as we’re currently seeing. The messy and poorly handled exit from Afghanistan is likely one cause for Biden’s falling approval in recent months.
“Arkansas voters are fairly split on how they view the U.S. Supreme Court, with 45% approving of the job they’re doing, compared to 49% who disapprove. Voters do not appear to be entrenched in their views of the court as the majority of those surveyed say they only somewhat approve or somewhat disapprove of the Court. The softness in both the approval and disapproval demonstrates a lack of familiarity or awareness of decisions coming out of the Court on a regular basis. Along partisan lines, Republicans are more inclined to approve of the Court’s work (56%) while Democrats generally disapprove (70%), mirroring the common ideological leaning of the current Court. Younger voters disapprove at higher margins than older voters and men approve of the Court more so than women (+7%).”
This survey of 916 likely general election voters was conducted September 20-22, 2021, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.04%. Responses were collected via SMS to an online survey. The poll is weighted to account for key demographics including age, ethnicity, education, and gender.
Under 30 – 5%
Between 30-44 – 25%
Between 45-64 – 40%
65 and over – 30%
Attend religious services
College graduate 45%
Non-college graduate 55%
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